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A Long-Range Motorcycle, Powered By Nothing But Air

Why bother dealing with gas, or even electricity? This bike zooms along at over 80 miles an hour using nothing but a scuba tank.

Electric motorbikes are slowly gaining acceptance, even among some diehard gear-heads. But electricity isn’t the only means of powering alternative two-wheelers; good old, plain air is also a viable, and sustainable, possibility.

Propelled by compressed air, the O2 Pursuit can go 100 kilometers on a single tank, and up to 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), according to Dean Benstead, the graduate of RMIT University, in Melbourne, who designed it.

The prototype essentially brings together three pieces of a kit: a Yamaha WR250R frame, a compressed-air engine built by an Australian company called Engineair, and a standard scuba diving tank (that’s right). Demonstrating in this clip, Benstead opens the tank, rings the throttle letting air into a heat exchange unit, and from there to the Di Pietro engine.

Banstead points out that unlike electric bikes, compressed air has no end of life impacts (you don’t have to dispose of any batteries), and recharging is considerably quicker (minutes versus hours).

The drawback with air power is that you need a network of refilling stations, and you still need to find power to compress the air in the first place. On the other hand, you don’t have to transport any fuel, and the resulting machines are relatively light and streamlined.

There are several compressed-air cars in development as well, though critics point to their energy-intensity and inefficiency compared to straight-ahead electric vehicles.

The O2 is one of 15 inventions shortlisted for the James Dyson Award, which announces its winner shortly.

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  • Adam Mingledorff

    Compressed air bicycle would be a better approach. Where a pedal system would run a geared compressor which would continuously add pressure to the system. Also to be used in emergency situations where regular pedal driven tires would get you to your next stop and/or a hybrid system where pedal power and compression system would work in unison.

    Either way a light hybrid system would be the best approach.

    I am still waiting for Guy Negre to place his engine onto a motor bike platform since his cars are able to get 200km on one tank and are working on a hybrid system that would get you coast to coast USA on one tank of petrol !!!!

  • Jimbo Jim

    so how a bike can work and those french folks on cars hasn't hit big times yet?

  • Writer Dave

    Ahhh, thanks. That's what I get for not being a diver. Still, it's an interesting concept.

  • Writer Dave

    To be fair, most gas stations have a compressor on hand... so this is very interesting indeed.

  • Anonymous

    While it may be true that scuba tanks normally need very clean and moisture free air, that is mostly out of concern for the diver using the air, to limit the impurities in the air supply that could harm a diver when inhaled at high pressures. For this application, you might be able to carry an air compressor with you to give you at least a few miles of range, seeing as you only need a very powerful air compressor for a scuba tank if you want to fill it to its maximum PSI.

  • phor11

    As anon said below, the compressors at gas stations are usually rated for 150-300psi.  
    This would require something closer to 4500 psi...  A completely different type of compressor.

    A decent compressor capable of the type of pressure necessary for this application runs $3500-$10k.

  • anonymous

      The compressors at gas stations put out very dirty, very low pressure air. Scuba tanks need over 3000 psi of clean, non moist air...